(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The Gay Genius"

ENGINEERING AND FAMINE RELIEF            275

Kiashing merely happened to become known because so many were
trampled to death." If the Empress were to rely on official reports, she
would never know the actual conditions. He reminded her of the death
of half a million people in a previous regime when the people had cash,
tut no rice. But he knew now that the people had neither cash nor
rice. "If all my worries are ungrounded and there is no famine next
year, I am willing to take the punishment. I will take a chance on that,
which is better than taking no steps to prevent a calamity and watching
the people die without moving a finger."

What happened to the million-dollar grant was this. The money was
there, but no rice was being bought. He was also deprived of the grant
of 500,000 piculs. Su Tungpo reckoned accounts with the government.
The officials insisted that 360,000 piculs had already been given. Su
insisted that, of this amount, the 200,000 piculs he obtained in 1089
should not be credited to the 1090 grant, and 160,000 piculs were already
in the granary at the time he petitioned for the grant. Receiving an
edict granting a sum was one thing, getting it past the obstruction of
bureaucracy was another. Writing to his good friend Kung Pingchung
in his lone fight against bureaucracy, he cried: "Alas, who will help
me?"

Su Tungpo's plan was to begin to sell government grain that winter.
As he had anticipated, the prices of grain soared. When winter came,
Jie started to sell the reserve in the government granaries. But in
February 1091 he was removed from his office in Hangchow and re-
called to the capital to serve again as hanlin. Leaving Hangchow with
this work uncompleted, he wrote to his successor Lin, telling him to
get in touch with all the imperial commissioners and to arrive at some
decision. He told Lin that in the previous month he had asked for the
holding up of half a million piculs from the amount due to the imperial
government, and that Lin should continue to hold it up for the present.
On the excuse that he was waiting for a reply to Su's last petition, he
could safely delay the sending of the rice. It would not be too kte, if
the rice proved to be not needed, to send it in June.

On the way to the capital he took the opportunity to visit the flooded
areas of Soochow and the neighbouring districts and to arrange con-
ferences with high officials in the fellow provinces. He saw whole areas
still buried under water, for the flood had not yet receded. This was in
spring, and the farmers still hoped that the water would recede in time
for the spring planting. It looked hopeless for the farms on lower levels,
while on the higher levels he saw women and old men working day and
night to drain water from their fields in a hopeless struggle against the
weather. The rain continued, and no sooner was water drained from
the fields than they began to fill up again. Famine had arrived. People
were beginning to eat chaff and bran, usually considered hog feed,